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Abu Dhabi To Host World’s First Dia Al Azzawi Retrospective Exhibition

World-renowned Iraqi artist to showcase key pieces as part of the 6th Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Festival

The Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF) today revealed details of the highly anticipated visual arts element of this year’s Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Festival, held under the patronage of His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. During the festival, the Emirates Palace will host a unique event: the first retrospective exhibition of the works of leading contemporary Arab artist, Dia Al Azzawi. ADMAF has invited Dia Al Azzawi, one of the world’s most famous and senior contemporary Arab artists, to exhibit his key pieces, currently in public and private collections around the world. These will include a selection of oil, acrylic and mixed media works from throughout his career, from the 1970s onward. The exhibition will give a unique insight into a much celebrated artist, who has played a crucial role in defining and promoting contemporary Arab art. Inspired by the ancient heritage of his home country, the Iraqi artist is known for his groundbreaking contrast of traditional Arab themes such as Islamic calligraphy, in bold, modern treatments. The artist will also be showing pieces from his recent collection at Abu Dhabi’s Ghaf Gallery throughout the festival. At both the Emirates Palace and the Ghaf Gallery, Dia al Azzawi will be hosting ‘Experience the Art with the Artist’ sessions where he will take viewers through the exhibitions of his work on Tuesday 24 March. Providing further insight into his work, he will be giving a students-only lecture at Zayed University’s Art & Design Department on Sunday 22 March. Dia Al Azzawi comments: “It was a great honour to be invited to exhibit at the 6th Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Festival. Abu Dhabi is continually growing as a cultural capital for the Arab World, and I am looking forward to taking part in what has become known as one of the region’s most important cultural events. “The works I am bringing to Abu Dhabi are some of the most important pieces in my career so far, and I hope that they will lead to debate and discussion as well as to enjoyment during the Festival. “I feel that my work is a particular fit for the Festival, which brings together influences from across the Arab world as well as the West. My work has always been known for its adaptation of cultural signatures, from the explorations of Arabic words and letters as signs in my paintings, through to the use of Bedouin fabrics in collage compositions.” Dia Al Azzawi lives in London, where he is involved in a number of artistic projects including at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA). His works feature in numerous exhibitions across the world, and are eagerly sought after by private collectors. The artworks shown for this exhibition are on loan from a number of public and private collections, including the Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha and the Kinda Foundation in Riyadh. The exhibition will be held at the Emirates Palace, and will be open to the public as part of the 6th Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Festival, running from 21 March to 2 April 2009. The festival, which will feature musical performances from a constellation of artists during its two week run, prides itself on the high quality of its visual arts component, with this year’s Dia Al Azzawi exhibition an ideal fit for the much-loved festival’s programme. The festival is an integral part of ADMAF’s year-long efforts to complement Abu Dhabi’s cultural vision. The festival aims to feature Abu Dhabi as a prominent cultural destination, while promoting the unique role of music and arts in cultural cooperation. The 6th Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Festival is primarily hosted at the EmiratesPalace, with tickets on sale at, as well as at Spinneys in Umm Sequim, Dubai and at the Emirates Palace from 14 March.

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